Town - First Test man-of-the-match Vernon
Philander says that suggestions last year that he was
unfit motivated him to work harder behind the scenes.
With the Proteas going down 3-1
in a four-match Test series to England in August last year, Philander's overall
fitness and conditioning was questioned by Proteas captain Faf du Plessis as
well as former captain Graeme Smith.
Philander picked up a hand injury
in the first Test at Lord's and then missed the final Test with a back strain
at Old Trafford.
Du Plessis challenged Philander
after that series to work on his fitness ahead of 2018's assignments against
India and Australia, and on Monday at Newlands 'Big Vern' produced his best
figures in Test cricket so far (6/42) to fire the Proteas to a 72-run victory
against India and silence his critics.
Du Plessis was full of praise for
Philander after the match, saying that he was most impressed by the hunger the
32-year-old showed when the Proteas needed somebody to stand up and be
"I like people to be
constructive and open and honest with us as players," Philander said of
the criticism he received last year.
"There are two ways of
facing it: You can take it personally and fade away or you can take it on board
and actually make a play and come back stronger.
"I took it a bit personally
up front, but we’re all obviously human at the end of the day. I put it aside
as quickly as possible and tried to do the work behind the scenes to come back
And come back strong he
With Dale Steyn injured for the
Indian second innings, Philander stood tall in a depleted South African
He took the last three wickets of
the innings in just four balls, but before then there were some nervy moments
for the hosts as Ravichandran Ashwin (37) and Bhuvneshwar Kumar (13*) started
edging closer to the total after tea.
It took a moment of magic from
Quinton de Kock, standing up to the stumps off Philander, to produce a neat
catch to dismiss Ashwin and get the Proteas on the front foot again.
"You have to be open to
those suggestions and I’ll give this one to Faf," Philander said of the
decision to bring De Kock up to the stumps.
"Ashwin at the time was
batting far out of his crease and the wicket was a touch on the slow side. I
felt that pushing him back would give all three dismissals back in play.
"You just have to remain
calm. We had it in our arsenal to get those last three wickets. The team with
the calm head comes out on top."
The second Test at Centurion gets
underway on Saturday.